Unnecessary train announcements binned in ‘bonfire of banalities’

  • government to review and remove train announcements that add unnecessary noise and disruption to journeys
  • the Department for Transport will ensure train operating companies retain important safety messages and work with accessibility groups so that passengers receive the necessary information
  • announcement follows the publication of the government’s Plan for Rail, which puts passengers back at the heart of the railways

Quieter train journeys are set to become the norm after the government announced it will identify and remove repetitive and unnecessary onboard announcements on trains in England.

The changes mean that passengers will no longer be bombarded with unnecessary ‘tannoy spam’ that distracts from important safety-critical messaging.

Working closely with the Rail Delivery Group, passenger groups including Transport Focus, and train operators, the Department for Transport (DfT) will identify how the vast number of announcements can be cut or reduced while maintaining vital obligations to ensure train travel remains accessible for all. Messages that play a safety critical role, or that ensure the railways are accessible for all, will remain.

The review will take place over the course of this year, with redundant messages identified and starting to be removed in the coming months.

Banal announcements set to be culled include self-evident instructions, such as having your ticket ready when leaving the station and contradictory calls for passengers to keep volume levels low while onboard announcements blare out. There will also be new curbs on the maximum frequency at which remaining announcements will be heard.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

Train passengers are all too often plagued by an endless torrent of repeated and unnecessary announcements.

In line with the passenger improvements, we are rolling out with our Plan for Rail we want to see improvements to the railways for those who use them day in day out.

That’s why I’m calling for a bonfire of the banalities to bring down the number of announcements passengers are forced to sit through and make their journey that little bit more peaceful.

As passengers come back to the railways, DfT will continue to ensure journeys are more comfortable to all users and that passengers continue to receive the important information they need about their journey.

Officials will work with accessibility groups to ensure that access for all is maintained.

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, launched last year, puts passengers at the heart of the railway. To improve the comfort and enjoyment of train travel, customer service will be modernised and upgraded across all stations and, on trains, focused on providing passengers with better communication and a more personalised service.

Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

Passengers will welcome a review intended to cut out unnecessary announcements. Transport Focus looks forward to helping with the review so passengers get the information they want, including those with additional accessibility needs.

Jacqueline Starr, CEO of the Rail Delivery Group, said:

We know people want the most relevant and timely messages on their journeys and to help with this, train operators are continuing their work to improve customer information, including cutting unnecessary onboard announcements.

We’re also going further by asking customers what they want to know and using their responses to plan more useful and consistent announcements across the network, helping people have a better experience travelling by train.

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